Return to Transcripts main page

CONNECT THE WORLD

Sri Lanka Prime Minister Says People on the Run with Explosives; ISIS Claims Responsibility for Sunday's Attacks; Trump Tries to Thwart Democratic-Led Investigations; Trump to Make First State Visit to U.K. in June; Myanmar's Supreme Court Rejects Journalists' Final Appeal; Sri Lanka PM Says Attacks Could Have Been Prevented; Kremlin Says Putin, Kim to Meet Thursday in Vladivostok; U.S. Resident Sought for North Korean Embassy Raid; Report: New IRA Claims Responsibility for Attack. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired April 23, 2019 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[11:00:00] HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones live for you in London this hour.

Our top story, the Sri Lankan Prime Minister says people are still on the run with explosives after Sunday's deadly bombings in the country. The

Prime Minister says there is also a suspicion ISIS might be behind the attacks. The group has claimed responsibility but offered no proof as yet.

Here's exactly what the Prime Minister had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RANIL WICKREMESINGHE, SRI LANKAN PRIME MINISTER: We certainly that security operated of the view that they're offering leaks, and some of the

evidence points to them. So if the (INAUDIBLE) ISIS claims, we'll be following up on this claim. There was suspicion that the allegations are

ISIS.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: Well he also said another hotel had been targeted on Sunday but that the attack there had failed. Earlier on the country's defense

minister claims the explosions may have been retaliation for last month's shootings at two mosques in New Zealand in Christchurch.

Well CNN has obtained this exclusive video. It is the aftermath of the church bombing in the city of Negombo. You can see the horrific damage

that the blast did. The walls have been completely scarred, some of them crumbling by the explosion. Well for more, CNN's Sam Kiley has filed the

latest from Colombo.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New video showing one of the alleged suicide bombers carrying what church officials

believe is a bomb in his backpack. Patting a toddler on the head as he crosses the church courtyard. State TV in Sri Lanka identifying him as a

suspect in one of the bombings. Without hesitation he strides on, entered a side door of Saint Sebastian's Church close to the altar. The next

frame, priests say, shows him exploding his bomb, killing at least 122 people who were celebrating Easter mass.

REV. SANJEEWA APPUHAMY, ASSISTANT PRIEST, SAINT SEBASTIAN'S CHURCH: It blasted in such a way there were children, there were women and all close

by and all were blown off almost. So more than 100 people who were killed on the spot.

KILEY: The Sri Lankan military says at least six suicide bombers are thought to have attacks two other churches and three five-star hotels

within minutes of one another. Local and U.S. intelligence officials believe that this slickly coordinated plot is the work of an international

ISIS inspired terror group and he could strike again soon.

A security dragnet was thrown a across the entire country with the state of emergency announced as they uncovered more of the murderous plot. In

Colombo, a bomb squad performed a controlled explosion of a suspicious van near Saint Anthony's Church, one of the scenes of Sunday's attacks. And a

six-foot pipe bomb was found close to the airport along with nearly 90 bomb detonators at the city's bus stop.

Sri Lanka's government had warnings from U.S. and India that attacks were imminent and publicly apologized for failing to heed them.

RAJITHA SENARATNE, SPOKESMAN, SRI LANKA CABINET: Very, very sorry.

KILEY: On April 11th the memo from the deputy inspector general of police advised Sri Lankan officials to raise security due to a potential attack.

The government spokesman can't hide the truth from the families of more than 500 injured and more than 300 dead, four of them Americans.

SENARATNE: As a government we have to say and we have to apologize to the families and the other institutions about this incident.

KILEY (on camera): After 30 years of civil war, ten years of peace has meant that most Sri Lankans thought scenes like this were behind them. But

clearly, the intent of whoever was behind this bombing was to sow seeds of friction between the different religious communities in Sri Lanka. And

perhaps even cause some to question their faith. Now the cleanup begins.

REV. SANJEEWA APPUHAMY, SURVIVOR: All the people are shouting, weeping. And we can't realize what happened.

We can build up our church but we can't build up our lives.

KILEY: That is a sentiment that Sri Lankans will have to overcome together.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JONES: Well that was our Sam Kiley reporting there from Sri Lanka. And we hope to establish some live contact with Sam later on in the program.

In the meantime though, Bobby Ghosh is an editor and member of the editorial board at Bloomberg and joins us now live from Washington. Bobby,

good to see you. I want to ask you first of all about this latest claim in this investigation that ISIS have said they are indeed behind the atrocity.

How credible do you think that is?

BOBBY GHOSH , EDITOR AND EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER, BLOOMBERG: Well it certainly -- there was an expectation that a large international group was

involved.

[11:05:00] And there are very few groups that have the capability of pulling off an attack of this scale, this level of sophistication that

requires this much planning and this much omission. ISIS would be one of them, Al-Qaeda would be another. There are a couple of groups in Pakistan

that might have the capability. The fact that ISIS has claimed it is not definitive. There have been incidents where they have made claims that

turned out later not to be true. But more often than not it does turn out to be true that when ISIS claims it, that they were responsible.

It certainly also runs against the argument that a small local group was responsible for this. Because the group that was mentioned by Sri Lankan

authorities yesterday is too small, no track record of pulling off any kind of violence, much less something this sophisticated and this ambitious. So

it's certainly credible. Whether that's 100 percent guarantee that ISIS did it, not yet.

JONES: And I know you've written about this. This small group as we know at the moment is the group that has been called out as the one responsible

for the attacks called the NTJ, National Tawheed Jamath. You've written about the fact that there isn't so much incentive or perhaps motivation for

such a small group, not just because of the resources that might have available to them. But just because they don't have that much of a problem

with the situation in Sri Lanka right now.

GHOSH: That's true. The Muslims and Christians in Sri Lanka don't have a long history of rancor or animus amongst each other. They are both very

small minorities. No group has been lording over the other. Typically when ISIS or Al-Qaeda work with local actors, whether they be individuals

or small local groups, they're taking advantage of some local motivation, that those suicide operatives want to take revenge for something. That

does not apply here, which is why right from the beginning when the government named the NTJ, it sounded -- it didn't sound like that was the

full story. We needed to know more about how this thing was pulled off.

Also, a group that small is unlikely to have the confidence of ISIS. It's unlikely that ISIS or Al-Qaeda would place that much faith and confidence

in a small group that has no track record. This is the kind of thing they try to do. Remember, this is now the single largest in terms of

casualties, the deadliest attack in Asia ever. And that means -- that makes it even more unlikely that a group that previously has never fired a

shot in anger should be able to pull off something like this.

JONES: And also, the fact that we're understanding now that it was perhaps retaliation for the shootings in mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand that

we saw last month. It seems like quite a quick turn-around.

GHOSH: No, I find that very hard to believe, that sort of strange credulity. It's been five weeks since the attack in Christchurch. This

attack given the complexity of it must have taken months and months and months.

The closest analogy would be the attacks in Bombay in 2008. And we know from that it took a long, long time in preparation. You have to have

people on the ground scoping out the targets, getting the explosions over, training, preparing suicide bombers, getting them in a mental state where

they're willing to do something like this, preserving that mental state. This is a very, very sophisticated operation and took much longer than five

weeks.

I think that people are now retroactively sort of attacking the Christchurch incident on top of this. By all rational and all previous

examples of this sort of thing, this suggests this was in the works long before Christchurch happened.

JONES: What do you make of how the government in Sri Lanka has handled the aftermath of this atrocity? We heard from the Prime Minister earlier on in

the program, earlier on in the day. He was saying that good progress has been made in identifying those responsible. But we've also learned there

are still potential attackers on the run with explosives.

GHOSH: Which by the way, explains why ISIS took some time. Sometimes when ISIS does not announce immediately that they were responsible, sometimes

it's an indication that the operation is not complete, that it's still ongoing. That doesn't surprise me entirely.

The government's handling, clearly, they bungled the preparation. They were warned and didn't take appropriate action. I think they've done the

right thing by coming out and owning that and apologizing and not trying to cover it up, because sometimes governments will do that and make matters

worse. I think the messaging toward the different communities has been the right messaging. The government's been trying to sort of prevent ethnic

and sectarian tensions from boiling over. I think they've done that right.

[11:10:00] The investigation is going to take a very long time and if it's an international group involved, it's going to require a big multinational

effort. Early days on whether and how soon they'll get to the bottom of all of this, but certainly in terms of messaging, in terms of public

posture, I think they've done a pretty decent job.

JONES: Yes. They've certainly asked for help. We understand that the FBI investigators are helping with the ongoing inquiry as well. Should all

places, houses of worship now be on high alert if this is potentially a domino effect or a string of attacks in preparation?

GHOSH: Well we're seeing that all over the world, all over the world. I was in New York yesterday and I noticed that there was a stronger presence.

Perhaps we only notice these things after an incident like this but I did sense a stronger police presence.

Where it's most concerning is within Sri Lanka of course. If the government has credible evidence that there are still more bombers out

there, the operation is still ongoing, then all kinds of places, not just places of worship. Remember, three of the targets were hotels. And as you

are reporting now says, one hotel had a lucky escape and an attack there failed. So it's not just places of worship. All kinds of public places

need to be watched carefully and I'm sure the authorities in Sri Lanka are doing so.

JONES: And Bobby, just a final question then. Just given the fact that Sri Lanka's civil war ended just ten years ago, is this country

particularly fertile ground for extremism and for brainwashing of individuals?

GHOSH: I hesitate to make that sort of conclusion. I think that Sri Lanka has a multiethnic, multi-sectarian population. It's one of the few

countries that has a minister of national integration. They clearly place a lot of volume in trying to preserve the balance of their society. They

do have a history, you know, suicide bombing became the signature attack style of the LTT. But that was a while ago. You have a generation of Sri

Lankans who have grown up now ten years since the fall of the Tamil Tigers.

I don't think Sri Lanka is uniquely vulnerable to this sort of thing. But what we've learned over the past couple of years that if an attack like

this can happen in Christchurch, it could happen London, it could happen in a beach resort in France, it can happen in Sri Lanka. It can happen

anywhere. We can no longer be surprised by where these attacks take place.

Yes, we must be vigilant at all times. Bobby Ghosh in Washington. Thank you so much for joining us.

GHOSH: Thanks for having me.

JONES: Now as the investigation, of course, continues into the Easter Sunday bombings, we are learning more about the victims of these attacks.

Most of them were Sri Lankans enjoying the holiday weekend. A number of them were foreign nationals. Retired British firefighter, Billy Harrop,

died alongside his wife, Sally. He was a former commander with the Greater Manchester fire and rescue team. The "Manchester Evening News" reports he

was celebrated for his heroism responding to a bombing back in 1996.

Also from Britain, Anita Nicholson and her children Alex and Annabel killed in a hotel restaurant. Her husband Ben survived. An Australian woman and

her 10-year-old daughter were killed in a church service in Negombo. And the Prime Minister of Bangladesh lost a young relative in the attack, that

young relative just 8 years old.

Still to come on the program, accepting an invitation from the Queen. President Trump is set to make his first official state visit to the U.K.

We live here in London with all the details.

[11:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JONES: You're watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones in London for you. Welcome back.

A huge partisan battle is shaping up in Washington as the White House tries to thwart a Democratic Congressional investigations into Donald Trump on

multiple fronts. President Trump is suing to stop one committee from obtaining his financial records while another panel is expected to hit new

roadblocks today on getting the President's tax returns. The White House has even instructed one former official to defy a Congressional subpoena.

Well this comes as Democrats debate how to handle the redacted Mueller report. While house leaders are taking a cautious approach, others are

calling for impeachment. Mr. Trump though is brushing it off.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you worried about impeachment, Mr. President?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Not even a little bit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: Well let's bring in CNN White House reporter, Stephen Collinson. Stephen wrote an analysis for CNN.com, arguing that Democrats may not be

learning the right lessons on impeachment. Stephen, thanks so much for joining us. And so, impeachment, the way and the way of the land is at the

moment, the Democrats have the House. The Mueller report is out. The election is just around the corner. How likely are impeachment

proceedings?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: At this moment, Hannah, they don't seem very likely because the leader of the House, House Speaker Nancy

Pelosi, the top Democrat in the country, is trying to tamp down speculation and increasing movement towards calling for impeachment in the Democratic

Presidential race.

The thinking is on the part of many the Democrats is that polls show that most Americans are not most interested in impeachment. They're more

concerned about their rising health care cost inequality, the student loans crisis and that pursuing impeachment would therefore be seen by some voters

as a distraction and could rebound against Democrats. So it's a political calculation.

A lot of Democrats are looking back to 1998 when Bill Clinton was impeached. And in a midterm election in the middle of all that, the

Republicans who were doing the impeaching paid a heavy political price. That is the history most of them cite on this issue. But if you look two

years later, the Republicans won back the White House in the shape of George W. Bush who ran a campaign basically running against an era of

Clinton scandals, pledging to renew honor and dignity in the White House.

So I think you can choose your history to fit your world view here if you're a Democrat. I think it's true, though, that the debate over

impeachment really is increasing. We saw in a set of Democratic town halls on CNN last night, several candidates moved much more into the pro

impeachment camp. Part of that may be reflecting what they're hearing since the release of the Mueller report on the campaign trail.

JONES: Of course as far as Donald Trump is concerned, he's just brushing off any talk of impeachment. In classic Trump style, while he's fighting

back at any attempts at Congressional oversight. Is this a tactic that we're going to see all the way through 2020 and the election?

COLLINSON: Certainly. I think what the White House is trying to do is put off all these Democratic attempts to get Donald Trump's taxes to look into

his businesses, to lift the lid on what was really going on in the White House and to use some of the evidence that was unveiled in the Mueller

report. They want to push it off as long as they can.

[11:20:00] And I think we're going to see a lot of pitched legal battles that could take months potentially and even end before the Supreme Court

once they worked their way through the legal process. I think it's true, though, that we're seeing a massive multifront effort by the White House to

evade transparency and accountability that does call into question the constitutional duties of the executive, of the presidency. And that is I

think the sort of underlying question here. So it's a huge legal clash that's building and I think it's going to intensify.

JONES: And it's hard to see how any president could take this particular Mueller report and use it to their advantage. And yet we presume, I guess,

that Donald Trump will do just that, maybe appealing to conservatives, to Republicans against some of the more unflattering -- shall we say --

elements of the report.

COLLINSON: Well I mean, that's one of Donald Trump's greatest skills as a politician, is his ability to reshape the truth to create his own

narratives and versions of reality. So the fact that Mueller was not able to establish a conspiracy between Trump's campaign and Russia and did not

make a final determination on obstruction of justice is being used by the President to say inaccurately that he's been completely vindicated. And of

course that's what his supporters want to hear.

And he's helped in this, of course, by the vast conservative media propaganda machine which is picking all this up and replaying the

compliment, if you like, to the President.

JONES: Stephen Collinson live in Washington for us. Stephen, thanks very much indeed.

To other news now. We learned today that President Trump will make his first state visit to one of the United States' strongest allies this

summer. Buckingham Palace says he has accepted an invitation from Queen Elizabeth to visit the U.K. in early June. Mr. Trump did make a trip here

last year and that was billed as a working visit. Our Max Foster is live outside Buckingham Palace for more on this story for us. Max, last year

President Trump had a few missteps, shall we call it, with the Queen and no interaction with the public. Might he get a different and perhaps slightly

warmer reception this time round?

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's interesting. We're waiting to sort of see what sort of protest there will be. Certainly, as you say, he was

choppered between locations at this more informal visit last year, a working visit they're calling it. This is very different. He'll be in

ground transport. The beast will be here. He'll be moving between iconic locations in central London and there will be lots of opportunity for

protest.

We'll wait to see how he reacts to that. Obviously, we've had the climate change protest recently here in London. I'm sure they'll jump on this

because Donald Trump famously pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. That's very controversial amongst them There are also

other campaign groups that have other issues with him.

We'll have to wait and see what sort of reaction there will be and how he'll react to that doesn't necessarily work against him, you could argue.

What we do know is the visit will look very much like President Obama's last visit. He'll be welcomed at Horse Guards. No carriage procession, I

think they'll be some security concerns around that particularly if there are protests. Then it's Buckingham Palace where there will be a state

banquet, for example, and a lunch. He won't be able to stay though, Hannah, because the whole of the East Wing -- the front of the building --

is being refurbished. There isn't really room in those really ground apartments where VIPs would normally stay.

JONES: Construction across London it seems at the moment, Max. So other than the Horse Guards' Parade and a possible procession carriage ride,

which may or may not happen, what are the other main facets of a state visit?

FOSTER: Well the other main facet, the top-level state visit, not all visiting heads of state get this. Is that there's an opportunity to

address both Houses of Parliament. Now that's interesting that's interesting. Because no one at Westminster is committing to whether or not

this indeed will happen. One would assume that President Trump would welcome that honor. It is the ultimate honor.

When you speak to Downing Street though, they're saying no comment effectively. We're waiting to confirm those details. What I read into

that is that there's a disconnect -- you won't be surprised to hear, Hannah -- between Parliament and between Downing Street about whether or not this

should happen. Downing Street clearly pushing for it, thinking it would be good for U.S./U.K. relations. But we know the Speaker of the House, Mr.

Bercow, has spoken in the past about how he doesn't think it's appropriate that Donald Trump would speak there. He's been in power through the Brexit

chaos and though perhaps he's, you know, causing some resistance. We don't know really what's going on. But we should have known by now whether or

not that speech will be taking place and we don't. So something's going on.

JONES: OK, you'll stay across it I'm sure. Max Foster outside Buckingham Palace for us, thank you.

Now to a different story altogether. Myanmar's Supreme Court has rejected a final appeal by two Reuters journalists who recently won a Pulitzer

Prize.

[11:25:00] They have been behind bars since December 2017. Their defense lawyer said the pair will not lodge any further appeals. For more on this,

CNN's Matt Rivers reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A disappointing, if unsurprising, court ruling Tuesday for two Pulitzer Prize winning

journalists in Myanmar. The country's Supreme Court upheld the convictions of Reuters reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe, all but assuring the pair will

serve the remainder of their seven-year prison sentences.

PAN EI MON, WA LONE'S WIFE (through translator): Today we came to the court with high hopes. We are optimistic about the verdict. We had

expected to see something better.

RIVERS: They were arrested in December 2017, charged with possessing classified documents. But the pair said they were set up by police and the

international community largely viewed the trial as a political sham. Critics say the real motive for their arrest an explosive investigation

into a massacre committed by Myanmar's military.

In late 2017 the military police and others were in the midst of carrying out what some U.N. investigates called a genocide against the Rohingya, a

Muslim minority in the country's west. More than 720,000 people fled their homes as up to 10,000 people were killed, a U.N. report estimated.

Countless others tortured and raped. The U.N. fact-finding mission called for several top generals to face genocide charges. The army and government

have repeatedly denied abuses.

Amidst the violence, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe, compiled detailed evidence that ten men and boys were beaten, stabbed, shot and ultimately killed by

military force. Their reporting led to seven soldiers being arrested and they won the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting.

Before their arrest, the pair says two police officers approached them and handed over documents. Shortly thereafter they were arrested under the

official secrets act, a rarely cited law.

Lawyers for both reporters argue the pair was framed by authorities angry over their reporting. And during their trial, whistle blower testimony

from a police captain confirmed the reporters' version of events, saying the pair were deliberately entrapped by police. But they were convicted

anyway. And each subsequent appeal has been denied.

In a statement Reuters chief counsel, Gail Gove, said in part, quote, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe did not commit any crime. They were victims of a police

setup to silence their truthful reporting.

Their only hope for freedom now, an unlikely pardon from Myanmar's de facto leader, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, who has not

challenged their conviction so far. Last year CNN spoke to Wa Lone's wife, Pon Ei Mon. the Paris first daughter, Angel, was born while he was

imprisoned.

PAN EI MON (through translator): I want my daughter to know how her father loves her. I tell her that whether she understands or not.

RIVERS: By the time her father is released from prison, it's likely baby Angel will be 7 years old. Matt Rivers, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JONES: Life from London you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. And still to come this hour on the program, we will bring you up to date with the latest

developments into the investigation into the terror attacks in Sri Lanka. As the Prime Minister says, they could have been prevented. Stay with us.

[11:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JONES: You're watching CNN and this is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Hannah Vaughn Jones live in London. Welcome back.

Let's return to our top story again now and the investigation, of course, into Sunday's deadly bombings in Sri Lanka. Here is what we know at this

stage. The Prime Minister says the deadly attacks that rocked his country could have been prevented if there hadn't been a breach in communications.

In another concerning update, he also says there are still people on the run with explosives and the police media spokesperson tells CNN that,

quote, around 40 suspects have been arrested in connection with the massacre.

ISIS has claimed responsibility but offered no proof of such a claim. A top official claims the explosions may have been retaliation perhaps for

last month's shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. CNN's Sam Kiley joins us now live from Colombo, Sri Lanka. Sam, good to see you.

Talk us through how the government is handling the situation, at least the perception of how it's handling it. Given that we heard from the Prime

Minister earlier and given that worryingly we've heard that there are potentially still attackers on the run with explosives.

KILEY: Well, the matter of the explosives and people still being out and about, that was reinforced this afternoon with a police statement saying

that they were looking for a truck that they believed to have been laden with explosives and a car laden with explosives, both here in the capital,

Colombo, Hannah. So I think that the statements coming from the politicians is being now finally matched up with what security officials

are saying.

Now there have been these claims coming of involvement from the so-called Islamic state but they have a habit -- as you well know -- Hannah, of

claiming responsibility for more or less my any atrocity around the world. So they have not yet proved positively that there was any role for the so-

called Islamic state. But there's no question now in the minds of both international intelligence agencies and the Sri Lankan government and

intelligence agencies, that this was indeed an Islamist attack.

Now the Prime Minister said that so far, all the suspects that have been arrested have been Sri Lankans. We don't yet know the names of the alleged

-- but not the alleged, the actual suicide bombers. But the authority's belief that they've identified almost all, if not all of them.

The real issue is for the authorities, how wide does this plot go and indeed how deep? Now the fractious nature of the political system here in

which you've got a legislature really at odds with the presidency. Might explain to come degree why there was a breakdown in communications, as the

government put it, in terms of getting intelligence that was coming from the United States, from India and from domestic intelligence agencies that

would indicate that there was a spectacular attack being planned.

[11:35:04] But that process did break down and the government is now vowing that they will try to correct that. Very much too late for the families of

now more than 320 dead and over 500 injured -- Hannah.

JONES: Yes, and we also learned, Sam, that UNICEF saying that 45 children were among the victims as well. Sam Kiley and Colombo for us. Thanks very

much indeed.

Well Sajjan Gohel joins me now. Sajjan is the international security director from the Asia Pacific Foundation and a friend of CNN. Good to see

you Sajjan. We just heard from Sam Kiley, of course, that the Islamic state, ISIS, they have claimed responsibility but this is no proof of that

as yet. Does this attack though, these attacks at least bear the hallmark of ISIS in your view?

SAJJAN M. GOHEL, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY DIRECTOR, ASIA PACIFIC FOUNDATION: Well certainly, Hannah, if you look at the fact that the attack was

coordinated multiple locations, it was synchronized using very powerful IEDs. It does bear the hallmarks of a transnational group. And the agenda

was altered to correct political, economic and social consequences.

As you mentioned, ISIS has taken credit for it. They've even issued pictures of who they're claiming to be the suicide bombers. We need to

have more information to come out but there is no doubt there is an international actor. The group that the Sri Lankan authorities were

blaming that operate in Sri Lanka, National Tawheed Jamath, may have played a role in this but they couldn't have done it on their own.

JONES: And when you say an international network was at play, I mean, most of us will be aware of ISIS and of Al-Qaeda and the like. But if this

attack wasn't supported, backed up by ISIS for example, who else is out there? Who are the other main candidates for this?

GOHEL: This is an important question. There are two angles that the authorities are looking at with the support of the FBI and the Australian

federal police who are there on the scene. The ISIS angle is one. The other is the Pakistan angle. Because National Tawheed Jamath, are a Salafi

jihadist group and they have ideological similarities with the Lashkar-e- Taiba of Pakistan, the LeT, who were behind the 2008 Mumbai attack.

And if you look at the Mumbai attack and the Sri Lanka attacks, very similar in terms of scale, coordination, multiple locations. The other

thing about the intelligence warnings that have come out was they were suggesting there could have been plots in the Maldives as well. Those

neighboring islands close to Sri Lanka.

JONES: We're also learning from the Sri Lankan authorities that they believe this was potential retaliation for the shootings and mosques that

we saw in Christchurch, New Zealand. But that was just a month ago. Does it ring true to you that such a plot could have been formed and executed in

such a short period of time?

GOHEL: It is a tight time frame to be able to plan an attack in the immediate aftermath of the Christchurch shooting, especially the one we've

seen on this scale. We do know that ISIS did issue a message after the Christchurch shooting calling for their followers to carry out attacks

during the Easter holidays. It is likely that this cell was already planning the attacks, but that they maybe brought them forward to time it

with Easter Sunday, because the timing is no coincidence.

JONES: Yes, I guess once we perhaps know a bit more about the individuals responsible, perhaps if they're Sri Lankan nationals or foreign nationals

that might give us more of a clue as to who they may have been inspired by. Is that a fair assessment?

GOHEL: We need to get much more information because it is just so worrying that the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe, is talking

about there could be others still out there. And we saw with the images that CNN showed of the controlled detonation of one of the devices just how

devastating that was. And you can imagine what that did in the churches and in the hotels where it was used. And this seems to be a very well-

armed group. We're talking about the biggest terrorist attack that has taken place outside of Afghanistan and Iraq since the 9/11. Bigger than

the Madrid train bombings, bigger than the Bali bombings. So you can think about the scale, just how scary this whole thing is.

JONES: And potentially then, Sajjan, how damaging could President Trump's words saying that ISIS is defeated. How damaging would that have been in

terms of the spread of the ideology still?

GOHEL: Well, it seems that very often when a terrorist group has a setback, politicians want to write the obituary of these terrorist groups.

But they continue, they grow, they proliferate. There's even another concern in addition to writing off ISIS, is the situation in Afghanistan

and this potential deal the West is willing to do with the Taliban who will allow groups like Al-Qaeda to come back. And it could become a cesspool

once again for terrorism. What emanates from Afghanistan and Pakistan that impacts on South Asia, which it may well have done in the case of the Sri

Lanka attack.

[11:40:00] So we really need to be very careful about writing these groups off and thinking that somehow, they are going to disappear. They are

waiting for an opportunity. And they're waiting for complacency in the West.

JONES: Sajjan Gohel, we appreciate your expertise on the subject. Thank you very much for coming in and joining us.

GOHEL: Pleasure.

JONES: Let's get you up to speed now on some other stories that are on our radar right now. And one day after Ugandan authorities canceled his

concerts and detained him, pop star turned politician, Bobi Wine, says police are now surrounding his home and he says visitors to his house are

being searched. Wine elected to parliament in 2017 is an outspoken critic of Uganda's president.

To Canada now and in the Province of Quebec, a combination of rain and rapidly melting snow has flooded nearly 3,000 homes. More than 1,000

people have been evacuated from their homes. Forecasters say continued warm weather will accelerate the snow melt.

And French officials say the fire that tore through Notre Dame Cathedral a week ago appears to have been accidental. France's junior interior

minister says nothing has been discovered that points to anything criminal. But he added, that the investigation into the fire could last for several

months.

Live from London you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up here on CNN, North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un is set for another summit but not with

U.S. President Donald Trump. We'll tell you who, when and where.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JONES: You're watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Hannah Vaughn Jones in London for you, welcome back to the program.

Now Saudi Arabia has executed 37 Saudi citizens for terror related crimes. The state-run news agency says one of those executed was later crucified, a

punishment reserved for particularly serious offenses. On its Twitter page the news agency announced, quote, the death penalty was implemented on a

number of criminals for adopting extremist terrorist ideologies and forming terrorist cells to corrupt and disrupt security as well as spreading chaos

and provoking sectarian strife.

The kingdom has executed at least 100 people just this year.

Now with nuclear talks between United States and North Korea stalled, North Korea's leader is going to Russia. The Kremlin confirms that Kim Jong-un

will meet with the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, on Thursday in Vladivostok on Russia Pacific Coast. It will be the first ever meeting

between the Russian and North Korean leaders. Our senior Moscow bureau chief, Nathan Hodge, standing by with all the details on this. And,

Nathan, it seems where Trump's efforts may have soured, Mr. Putin is more than happy to pick up the slack.

[11:45:00] NATHAN HODGE, CNN MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF: Hannah, and Putin is always happy to punch above his weight when it comes to being an actor in

world affairs. And certainly, Russia has longstanding ties with North Korea and preparations are well underway in the far eastern city of

Vladivostok. A city that's about seven hours -- seven time zones ahead of Moscow where the meeting is slated to take place on Thursday.

Now we've only just recently gotten some details from the Kremlin. A senior aide to President Putin had said that this would be a one on one

meeting followed by a bilateral meeting with the two delegations. It's not planned that there will be a statement following it. But certainly this

is, as you had noted, coming after a couple of rounds of diplomacy between Trump and Kim. And it certainly shows that Putin, as well, can be an

energetic player on the world stage -- Hannah.

JONES: Obviously with the U.S. and North Korea and their relations, denuclearization seems to be the main sticking point. Does Russia have the

same obsession with denuclearization across the Korean Peninsula?

HODGE: Well, Hannah, in all official statements the Russians have always said that they're very keen to resolve the crisis on the Korean Peninsula.

But they've often taken a different position, as has China when it comes to what steps they think need to be taken in order for that denuclearization

to fully happen. They haven't always seen eye to eye with the United States about what the U.S. needs to do to deescalate tensions on the

Peninsula.

So certainly, it'll be interesting to see what the outcome of it is. We don't know what kind of readout we'll get at this stage and the

preparations have been fairly closely-held. But we do know from Russian state media for instance that Kim will be traveling by train. Russia

shares a border with North Korea, a train that will be traveling to Vladivostok. And we're starting to hear more on Russian state media a

little bit about what the preparation is that's underway there in Vladivostok -- Hannah.

JONES: Yes, he travelled I think of Vietnam by train as well. Not a big fan of flying is Kim Jong-un. Nathan, we have to leave it there. Nathan

Hodge and Moscow for us. Thanks very much indeed.

Meanwhile we are following new developments surrounding a mysterious break- in at the North Korean embassy in Spain. For more now, Brian Todd reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a bizarre and brazen heist aimed at North Korea and its dictator, Kim Jong-un, carried out in

broad daylight against the brutal regime's embassy in Spain back in February. Ten men gained entry into the compound allegedly by posing as

businessmen, tying up the staff and beating them, Spanish officials say. Before making off and Embassy vehicles with a stash of thumb drives, hard

drives, computers and phones. A gold mine, former spies say. For Western intelligence.

CNN has now learned U.S. marshals are searching for this man, Adrian Hong. A Mexican national and U.S. resident, who Spanish authorities say led the

embassy assault. Authorities raided Hong's apartment Thursday but didn't find him there.

A source close to Hong shared this video exclusively with CNN. His lawyer now tells CNN, Adrian Hong has gone to ground.

LEE WOLOSKY, ATTORNEY FOR ADRIAN HONG: Well he certainly fears for his safety. We do have reason to believe that North Korean hit squads have

been dispatched to target Mr. Hong.

TODD: Adrian Hong is a leader of the group Cheollima Civil Defense.

ANDRIAN HONG, LEADER , CHEOLLIMA CIVIL DEFENSE: It is a brutal totalitarian regime.

His lawyer now says they want to be called the provisional government of Free Joseon. They are a sworn enemy of Kim Jong-un's regime.

TARA O, PACIFIC FORUM: Their stated goal is to overthrow the regime and bring in human rights and other freedom to North Korea.

TODD: A former U.S. marine, named Christopher Ahn, another alleged member of the group, was taken into custody by U.S. marshals in Los Angeles on

Thursday. Though is not clear what Ahn has been charged with. His case is under seal and his lawyer hasn't commented. This is a picture of Ahn taken

with the son of Kim Jong-un's half-brother. According to Adrian Hong's lawyer, Christopher Ahn helped extract that young man and his family from

Macau to a safe location two years ago. Shortly after Kim allegedly had his half-brother murdered at an airport in Malaysia.

It's not clear if Ahn was involved in the raid on the embassy in Spain on February 22nd. But Hong's lawyer admits his client was. He says the group

was invited inside and wasn't violent. Spanish officials say Adrian Hong caught a plane to the U.S. shortly after the embassy raid. And Hong's

group says it shared the material taken from the raid with the FBI at the FBI's request. What could the Bureau learn about operations at that North

Korean embassy?

ROBERT BAER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: The North Koreans we suspect are involved in narcotics, in murder, all sorts of things and get confirmation

of this hard intelligence is very difficult to do and you never get an opportunity like this.

[11:50:00] TODD (on camera): Adrian Hong's attorney, Lee Wolosky, told us that he's concerned if his client is taken into custody that he might

eventually be extradited to North Korea. The Justice Department, while not commenting on any other aspect of this case has told CNN, essentially, it

would not try to facilitate that extradition. The FBI when asked about any information that may have been shared with the Bureau from that raid at

North Korea's embassy in Madrid would not comment. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JONES: Brian, thanks very much.

Now in Northern Ireland there has been a claim of responsibility and an arrest for the attack that killed a freelance journalist, Lyra McKee, last

week. The "Irish News" says it received a message from a group calling itself the New IRA. It claims McKee was killed accidentally during an

attack targeting nearby police officers. Our Nic Robinson reports that a 57-year-old woman has been arrested.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It's kind of difficult to say how this 57-year-old woman might be connected. I mean, I think if

we look back to the arrest the police made over the weekend and I attended a press conference there. Where the police said, that they were convinced

that the two men that they'd arrested, teenagers 18 and 19 years old were the gunmen. That they were new breed of terrorists. That these were

members of the New IRA.

This is very strong language from the police in Northern Ireland. A few days later they were forced to let those two walk free. So now they've

arrested a 57-year-old woman. It would be conjecture to wonder how they got that information that led to her arrest. But the police have been

appealing very, very heavily in the community where the killing took place for people to come forward with information, with mobile phone video,

footage of the events that night if they've got it.

So there's been a strong push by the police and there's also been a strong pushback in the community against the New IRA. And I think that's perhaps

why you see this statement from the New IRA using traditional means that the old IRA used to use. They're using a coded message to a news

organization to authenticate what they are saying. And when they say, well we'll tell our volunteers to be more careful next time. I think at the

moment in the city of Derry that is not going to go down very well.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JONES: Our Nic Robertson reporting there from London earlier on.

Now live from London this is CONNECT THE WORLD. Still to come on the program, shocking pictures from the Philippines. Just look at this water

cascading off a high-rise building. We'll explain how this happened.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JONES: You are watching CNN. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones. Welcome back to the program.

Philippines civil defense officials say at least 16 people died in Monday's earthquake on the island of Luzon. Dozens more were injured in the 6.1

magnitude quake. Some people, we should say, are still missing. Take a look at this shocking video. We showed you a bit of it just now. It shows

water from a rooftop pool cascading off a high-rise building.

[11:55:00] Well another earthquake hit the central Philippines on Tuesday but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage. We'll keep you

updated.

In today's Parting Shots, there are many similarities between humans and apes. But when it comes to who can strike a better pose, well it looks

like the gorillas are winning. A park ranger in the Democratic Republican of Congo posted this selfie of himself and two gorillas standing in the

background. Now park officials say gorillas can indeed walk up right for a short period of time, but it doesn't happen very often. What an amazing

picture.

I'm Hannah Vaughn Jones in London. That was CONNECT THE WORLD. Stay tuned our way, "THE EXPRESS" is up next with Richard Quest.

[12:00:00]

END